“And that, Evan, is what happens when you head out to the great unknown and don’t pack enough for lunch. It all comes down to food.”

Lenore leaned back in her chair and shivered a little, glancing out her window at the gray rain of Vancouver, Canada. At the other end of the Zoom call sat Evan in Ontario. He was shivering too, though the warmth of 2020’s summer was just starting to push back against a chilly spring.


On that day, we were having a bit of a brainstorm. The two of us had been chatting off and on for about two months. We’d been friends and colleagues for years, but with lockdown, our conversation picked up pace.

In the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, we mostly moaned about lost travel. But in March 2020, all those other countries might as well have been on Mars.

And then, one fateful day, we realized there was a place we could go to and study a global food system if we used our imaginations: we could do a thought experiment on what it would take to live on Mars. This struck both of us as a silly idea at first, but as we pondered, this thought experiment morphed into a two-year mission, conducted over Zoom, one cramped claustrophobic room to another.

It was in that moment, in April 2020, when COVID was new, and there was no toilet paper anywhere, the two of us decided we should go to Mars, at least in spirit. And the first question, of course, was what would be for dinner once we got there? While this may seem like an odd question to ask, it is the one in most urgent need of an answer. Nearly two centuries after poor Franklin kissed his wife goodbye, loaded the last casks of fresh water, and sailed over the horizon, humanity is contemplating a journey into an ever-deeper desolation — outer space. And beyond that velvet blackness, Mars.

This book is about what the first Martian community must do to feed itself. As the two of us have gone on this imaginary mission, we’ve come to believe a Martian community can and will feed itself successfully, and that in doing so, develop technologies that will revolutionize agriculture on Earth.

Seem preposterous? We don’t think so. In our day jobs, we are academics. We write serious books, give serious lectures, and advise senior levels of government in Canada and internationally. In all this work, the two of us have devoted our professional energy to developing strategies to sustainably feed the world’s growing population. We work on figuring out problems linked to climate change and obesity, how to help people emerge from food insecurity, and the best ways of protecting farmland. Despite all this (or perhaps because of all this), in our opinion, figuring out what the first Mars-dwellers will eat is a topic that may define the future of how we feed ourselves.

La description

From Impossible Burgers to lab-made sushi, two witty, plugged-in food scientists explore leading-edge AgTech for the answer to feeding a settlement on Mars — and nine billion Earthlings too

Feeding a Martian is one of the greatest challenges in the history of agriculture. Will a Red Planet menu involve cheese and ice cream made from vats of fermented yeast? Will medicine cabinets overflow with pharmaceuticals created from engineered barley grown using geothermal energy? Will the protein of choice feature a chicken breast grown in a lab? Weird, wonderful, and sometimes disgusting, figuring out “what’s for dinner on Mars” is far from trivial. If we can figure out how to sustain ourselves on Mars, we will know how to do it on Earth too. In Dinner on Mars, authors Fraser and Newman show how setting the table off-planet will supercharge efforts to produce food sustainably here at home.

For futurists, sci-fi geeks, tech nuts, business leaders, and anyone interested in the future of food, Dinner on Mars puts sustainability and adaptability on the menu in the face of our climate crisis.


“Feeding a human colony on the Red Planet would be a staggering challenge. But the technologies we’d use there could help humanity vastly improve how we produce food here — on Earth — providing more nutrition more fairly with far less damage to our planet’s essential natural systems than today’s food technologies. This is a wonderfully creative and entertaining book that’s packed with vital insights on every page. Newman and Fraser are master storytellers, and in Dinner on Mars they offer a feast of science, foresight, history, and imagination that satisfies our hunger for hope in a time of crisis.” — Thomas Homer-Dixon, Executive Director, Cascade Institute, author of Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril